September Issue 2010

By | Arts & Culture | Books | Society | Published 14 years ago

What kind of future citizens did the Quaid envisage for the Pakistan he so painstakingly founded? This question was answered at the book launch ofMommy, am I a …, co-authored by Anila Ali and Karen Gottileb, held at The Second Floor on August 27.

Anila, an eighth grade teacher by profession, migrated to the US after marriage 20 years ago. Yet at heart, she remained a true nationalist, dedicated to countering the prejudice against Muslims plaguing western mindsets after the many terrorist attacks in recent years. Her book is based on a true story, and attempts to dispel false notions about Muslims.

It all began when a little girl was proudly showing her classmates a poster about herself, and one boy started hurling accusations at her. Her crime — being a Muslim in the US. The victim was Anila’s daughter, who came home with the painful question: “Mommy, am I a terrorist?”

In homogenous societies, a xenophobia of sorts can develop, unless there is some exposure to different cultures said speakers Amir Adnan (a renowned designer) and Annabelle Bilgrami (a student counsellor at Lyceum). For them, and for Mrs Fernandez — a teacher at the Karachi Grammar School who fondly reminisced about Anila’s early career there — her book is a bold and timely effort.

Today, many Muslim students and their families in South Bay, Los Angeles District approach Anila and her team for action against hate crimes. She has found considerable support within the FBI and the department of justice, and her book is now part of the curriculum in the district schools’ Tolerance Unit.

She has dedicated the book to her father, a journalist and youth leader during the Pakistan freedom movement. A passion like Anila’s is probably what the Quaid believed the citizens of Pakistan would all possess.